No Respite From Flights With Third Runway

Key questions answered at public debate

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Third runway 'north west' - image courtesy of Heathrow Airport

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At the second public meeting organised by Putney's MP Justine Greening, Heathrow's Matt Gorman said that Wandsworth’s flightpath communities would not continue to get a half day respite period if the airport is given permission to build a third runway.

Residents heard the case for the Heathrow third runway and Heathrow Hub expansion plans
The response came after one local Putney resident repeatedly asked for a straight answer to her question.

Gatwick and Heathrow are the only airports now being considered for expansion by the Government’s Airports Commission. A consultation is now underway to test the public’s views of these rival proposals and public meetings have been held in Putney to help inform local residents.

Mr Gorman also repeated Heathrow’s claim that fewer people in London will be affected by noise if Heathrow expands. This is despite new flightpaths being created and the number of flights increasing from 480,000 to 740,000 per year.

Local people challenged the credibility of this claim along with council leader Ravi Govindia, Putney MP Justine Greening and HACAN chairman John Stewart.

Mr Gorman said he could not rule out a fourth runway in the future and confirmed that the airport continues to finance the ‘Back Heathrow’ campaign – but said the group is independent of the airport.

Cllr Govindia said: “I want to thank Matt Gorman from Heathrow and Kevin Harman from Heathrow Hub for coming to Putney and putting their case across to local people. These debates have helped residents’ get to grips with this very complicated expansion consultation.

“In Wandsworth there are concerns with some of Heathrow’s assessments. In particular we don’t believe that they have the power to put their elaborate and untested noise respite plan into action. If steeper glide paths and arched arrival routes can fix the noise problem then why aren’t they being used right now with two runways?

“The truth is that the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) controls the sky and their primary concern has to be safety. If they have any concerns with wind conditions or anything else they will ignore the respite arrangements and land planes along the safest and most direct routes. Heathrow should be up front about this.

Cllr Govindia concluded: “Today, with two runways the relatively simple respite arrangements are only adhered to around half of the time. If Heathrow expands to three runways and brings in a far more complex respite system we expect the air traffic controllers to overrule it far more frequently. “This respite system has to be fully tested and proven with two runways before it’s used to justify a third.”

November 29, 2014